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Entries in Fired (11)

Monday
Jan072013

Transgender Teacher Sues Catholic School over Firing

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A transgender teacher is suing the New York City Catholic school where he worked for more than 30 years, claiming he was wrongfully terminated for growing out his hair, painting his fingernails and being "worse than gay."

In a lawsuit, Mark Krolikowski, 59, alleges that after 32 years of teaching at St. Francis Prep in Queens, N.Y., and receiving numerous accolades for his work, including leading students in a musical performance for Pope Benedict XVI, he was fired last year after the parents of a ninth-grader complained about his appearance.

Krolikowski remains anatomically male and routinely wore suits and neckties to school where he taught music, social studies and a class on human sexuality. He also wore earrings and manicured his nails in "a feminine style," according to court documents.

In 2011, Krolikowski was summoned to the office of the principal, Brother Leonard Conway, where he revealed that he was transgender and that he intended to start coming to work dressed as a woman. According to Krowlikowski's lawsuit, Conway told the teacher that being transgender was "worse than gay" and that he could no longer appear at public events if he planned to begin appearing as a woman.

"He is extremely upset given the dedication and devotion he showed to the school for 30 years," Krolikowski's lawyer, Andrew Kimler, told ABCNews.com.

Kimler said that although his client worked for a private, religious school, Krolikowski was still protected under city and state discrimination laws.

Kimler would not reveal the damages his client hopes to claim through the lawsuit.

A lawyer for the school said the school had cause to fire the teacher and he was not relieved due to his gender identity.

"His employment was terminated for appropriate non-discriminatory reasons," said the school's attorney, Phil Sempervivo.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio 

Sunday
Dec232012

Dental Assistant Fired for Being ‘Irresistible’ Is ‘Devastated’

ABC News(DES MOINES, Iowa) -- After working as a dental assistant for ten years, Melissa Nelson was fired for being too “irresistible” and a “threat” to her employer’s marriage.

“I think it is completely wrong,” Nelson said.  ”I think it is sending a message that men can do whatever they want in the work force.”

On Friday, the all-male Iowa State Supreme Court ruled that James Knight, Nelson’s boss, was within his legal rights when he fired her, affirming the decision of a lower court.

“We do think the Iowa Supreme Court got it completely right,” said Stuart Cochrane, an attorney for James Knight. “Our position has always been Mrs. Nelson was never terminated because of her gender, she was terminated because of concerns her behavior was not appropriate in the workplace. She’s an attractive lady. Dr. Knight found her behavior and dress to be inappropriate.”

For Nelson, a 32-year-old married mother of two, the news of her firing and the rationale behind it came as a shock.

“I was very surprised after working so many years side by side I didn’t have any idea that that would have crossed his mind,” she said.

The two never had a sexual relationship or sought one, according to court documents, however in the final year and a half of Nelson’s employment, Knight began to make comments about her clothing being too tight or distracting.

“Dr. Knight acknowledges he once told Nelson that if she saw his pants bulging, she would know her clothing was too revealing,” the justices wrote.

Six months before Nelson was fired, she and her boss began exchanging text messages about work and personal matters, such as updates about each of their children’s activities, the justices wrote.

The messages were mostly mundane, but Nelson recalled one text she received from her boss asking “how often she experienced an orgasm.”

Nelson did not respond to the text and never indicated that she was uncomfortable with Knight’s question, according to court documents.

Soon after, Knight’s wife, Jeanne, who also works at the practice, found out about the text messaging and ordered her husband to fire Nelson.

The couple consulted with a senior pastor at their church and he agreed that Nelson should be terminated in order to protect their marriage, Cochrane said.

On Jan. 4, 2010, Nelson was summoned to a meeting with Knight while a pastor was present. Knight then read from a prepared statement telling Nelson she was fired.

“Dr. Knight felt like for the best interest of his marriage and the best interest of hers to end their employment relationship,” Cochrane said.

Knight acknowledged in court documents that Nelson was good at her job and she, in turn, said she was generally treated with respect.

“I’m devastated. I really am,” Nelson said.

When Nelson’s husband tried to reason with Knight, the dentist told him he “feared he would have an affair with her down the road if he did not fire her.”

Paige Fiedler, Nelson’s attorney, said in a statement to ABC News affiliate KCRG that she was “appalled” by the ruling.

“We are appalled by the Court’s ruling and its failure to understand the nature of gender bias.,” she wrote.

“Although people act for a variety of reasons, it is very common for women to be targeted for discrimination because of their sexual attractiveness or supposed lack of sexual attractiveness. That is discrimination based on sex,” Fiedler wrote. “Nearly every woman in Iowa understands this because we have experienced it for ourselves.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Dec222012

State Supreme Court Rules ‘Irresistible’ Employees Can Be Fired

Comstock/Thinkstock(DES MOINES, Iowa) -- An Iowa dentist was within his legal rights when he fired a longtime employee he found to be “irresistible” and a threat to his marriage, the State Supreme Court unanimously ruled.

The seven justices, all male, affirmed on Friday a lower court’s decision in favor of Dr. James Knight, who terminated Melissa Nelson after employing her for 10 and a half years as a dental assistant.

“We do think the Iowa Supreme Court got it completely right,” said Stuart Cochrane, an attorney for James Knight. “Our position has always been Mrs. Nelson was never terminated because of her gender, she was terminated because of concerns her behavior was not appropriate in the workplace. She’s an attractive lady. Dr. Knight found her behavior and dress to be inappropriate.”

The two never had a sexual relationship or sought one, according to court documents, however in the final year and a half of Nelson’s employment, Knight began to make comments about her clothing being too tight or distracting.

“Dr. Knight acknowledges he once told Nelson that if she saw his pants bulging, she would know her clothing was too revealing,” the justices wrote.

Six months before Nelson was fired, she and her boss began exchanging text messages about work and personal matters, such as updates about each of their children’s activities, the justices wrote.

The messages were mostly mundane, but Nelson recalled one text she received from her boss asking “how often she experienced an orgasm.”

Nelson did not respond to the text and never indicated that she was uncomfortable with Knight’s question, according to court documents.

Soon after, Knight’s wife, Jeanne, who also works at the practice, found out about the text messaging and ordered her husband to fire Nelson.

The couple consulted with a senior pastor at their church and he agreed that Nelson should be terminated in order to protect their marriage, Cochrane said.

On Jan. 4, 2010, Nelson was summoned to a meeting with Knight while a pastor was present. Knight then read from a prepared statement telling Nelson she was fired.

“Dr. Knight felt like for the best interest of his marriage and the best interest of hers to end their employment relationship,” Cochrane said.

Knight acknowledged in court documents that Nelson was good at her job and she, in turn, said she was generally treated with respect.

When Nelson’s husband tried to reason with Knight, the dentist told him he “feared he would have an affair with her down the road if he did not fire her.”

Paige Fiedler, Nelson’s attorney, said in a statement to ABC News affiliate KCRG that she was “appalled” by the ruling.

“We are appalled by the Court’s ruling and its failure to understand the nature of gender bias,” she wrote.

“Although people act for a variety of reasons, it is very common for women to be targeted for discrimination because of their sexual attractiveness or supposed lack of sexual attractiveness. That is discrimination based on sex,” Fiedler wrote. “Nearly every woman in Iowa understands this because we have experienced it for ourselves.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep072012

Calif. Lifeguards Lose Job Over Popular YouTube Video Imitation

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(EL MONTE, Calif.) -- The popular YouTube dance music video “Gangnam Style” has not only gone viral, it’s indirectly gotten a group of California lifeguards fired.

Korean pop singer PSY’s video -- which starts on a beach, as PSY demonstrates his “horse-riding dance” and begins singing about longing for a girl who is "tender and big-hearted” by day, but wild and fiery by night -- inspired the lifeguards to create their own spoof, “Lifeguard Style.” Lifeguards clad in red suits dance, swim together, thrust their hips and generally have a grand time.

But when El Monte city officials saw the video, they were less than impressed. In a written statement released to ABC affiliate KABC the city said:

“There was a clear unauthorized use of city resources and property, including the use of city-issued uniforms during the making of this unauthorized video. The city maintains that it holds all employees to a higher standard.”

 

El Monte city officials cited that the content of the video was not what led to the firing; rather it was the “unauthorized use of a city facility for the group’s private benefit.”

One of the fired lifeguards, 22-year-old Michael Roa, said he was shown the video by a friend in the break room and thought the video was “hilarious” and decided to do his own with his fellow lifeguards.

“We wanted to commemorate a great and successful summer for the pool and to make memories with people that we worked with,” he said. “We wanted to have something to look back on as a fond memory of the pool. We never thought it would turn out to be what it has become.”

Roa said he was told by the El Monte city manager that the video was “disgusting” and an “embarrassment” to the city.

“I uploaded it to YouTube as a way to show it to my friends, not for fame, and there was no malice and I wasn’t looking for monetary gain or to give the city a bad image,” Roa said. “I can’t really express how frustrated I am with the rash decisions that they’re making.”

The El Monte city manager could not be reached for comment. Nor could the mayor.

Roa said he knew that when he was called into a meeting with the city manager it was because of the video, but he said he had no idea what form of punishment would be pursued. He also said the video’s aftereffects proved far worse than he initially thought.

“I am extremely frustrated to hear that even though I was the one who orchestrated it all and the ones who didn’t know they were being filmed were fired,” Roa said. “My supervisor and pool manager were both fired, and the pool manager wasn’t even in the video and my supervisor was in it briefly, maybe four times unknowingly.”

The pool manager was fired because he did not “alert city officials about the video,” Roa said.

As a graduate student at the University of La Verne in La Verne, Calif., Roa said the lifeguard job helped 13 of the 14 lifeguards pay for their college tuition.

“It helped me supplement my college education with student loans, and now I don’t have this income,” he said. “I also know a lot of the employees who were fired do not have any other jobs that help pay for it.”

The 14 fired lifeguards have started a Facebook petition page to campaign for their jobs back. Roa said the community has already been sending an outpouring of support his way.

“I have been working at the aquatic center for seven years,” Roa said. “Because of our service we have a lot of support within the local community and it is a great confidence booster. I was always excited to go to work and see the kids I teach and to know the community cares as much I care, it means a lot.”

The original video titled “Gangnam Style,” has been viewed more than 117 million times on YouTube and has already created a celebrity buzz surrounding singer PSY, who was featured on Thursday night’s MTV Video Music Awards and was signed as client of Justin Bieber’s manager Scooter Braun.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul042012

Florida Lifeguard Fired for Trying to Save Drowning Man Outside of His Zone

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A Florida lifeguard has been booted from his lifeguard chair for running to save a man who was floundering in the surf.

Tomas Lopez, 21, was fired by his supervisor for vacating his lifeguarding zone to save a man drowning in an unprotected area of the beach in Hallandale Beach, Fla., on Monday, reports the Sun Sentinel.

Lopez' employer is not paid to patrol the zone where the man had been in trouble.

According to the Sun Sentinel, Lopez was approached by a beachgoer who pointed out a man struggling in the water nearly 1,500 feet south of his post.

Instinctively, he ran down the beach to save him. By the time Lopez got to him, he had been pulled to shore by fellow beachgoers.

Following his rescue attempt, Lopez was let go for leaving the area he was supposed to be covering.

Jeff Ellis and Associates, a private aquatic safety contractor, is hired by the city to patrol the beaches. The company is also in charge of hiring and training the city's lifeguards.

Susan Ellis, spokeswoman for Jeff Ellis and Associates, told the Sun Sentinel that Lopez broke company rules when he left his zone, and cited "liability issues" that may have occurred as a result of Lopez leaving his designated area.

Ellis could not be reached for further comment.

Some of Lopez's friends rallied for him on his Facebook page where he had posted the Sun Sentinel's article.

"thats messed up but im proud of you for standing up like that and doing whats right. Tomas Lopez = Hero!!" one commenter wrote.

Tom Gill, spokesman for the United States Lifesaving Association, said Lopez's firing came across as a little harsh.

"It seems unfortunate that a guard would do what he's trained to do and be fired for it," he said.

Gill said that the boundaries set by Jeff Ellis and Associates were most likely set by the city of Hallandale Beach in a private contract.

"Usually when the municipalities hire someone to [lifeguard], those organizations are not only taking on the responsibility of the job, but a lot of the liability," he said.

USLA is recognized as the authority on open water lifesaving by the Red Cross, and certifies agencies and associations around the country based on their training.

Gill said Jeff Ellis and Associates has not applied for certification with USLA, and so he could not speak on the company's regulations or training.

"As far as being fired for going outside the zone, I couldn't tell you how they could make that justification," he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun152012

Military Breastfeeding Spokeswoman Fired from Civilian Job

George Doyle/Thinkstock(SPOKANE, Wash.) -- Crystal Scott, spokeswoman for the organization behind the controversial photographs of military mothers’ breast-feeding in uniform, was fired from her first civilian job as an x-ray technician because of media attention, said her lawyer, Pat Bucannen.

Bucannen said Scott’s supervisor from Schryver Medical, a mobile medical services company in Spokane, Wash., knocked on her door on June 1 and asked her turn over her keys and company computer.

When Scott asked why, “the gentleman told her it was ‘due to the media,’” Bucannen said.

Scott said after he left, she cried.

“I believe that media was used as an excuse because I was advocating for gender equality as well,” said Scott, of her termination. “I was shocked after knowing that. I didn’t really know what to say. I was definitely not expecting it.”

Scott had been working at Schryver for 16 months. She received her x-ray technician certification in January 2011. Prior to that, she was a medic and served in the military for six years, and completed a tour in Iraq from 2004-2005.

Bucannen contacted Schryver Medical following Scott’s termination, but said she received no immediate response.

“[Later] they called back alleging she had all this misconduct in her file, and write-ups for rule violating,” she said.  Schryver sent Bucannen Scott’s personal file, but she said “there was not a scintilla of evidence.”

A week after Scott’s termination, Bucannen said Schryver wrote up a document and sent it to her.

“They came up with the excuse that she violated rules and made all kinds of outrageous accusations,” she said. “I said [to Schryver], ‘You make those public -- we’ll add defamation to the lawsuit.’”

Bucannen said no lawsuit has been filed yet, but if they decided to pursue legal action, they would be “suing [Schryver] for gender discrimination, retaliation, and wrongful termination.”

Schryver Medical could not be reached for comment.

When asked if she thought Scott was discharged based on the association with breast-feeding in uniform, she was unsure.

“That’s one thing we may never know. That’s something you’ll need to get in the head of the man who fired her to know.”

Scott said that everyone at the Fairchild Air Force Base encourages Mom2Mom’s advocacy.

“They have always been very supportive of us, the women and men all across base. They were telling us how much of an inspiration we were.”

Scott hopes to continue her work as an x-ray technician elsewhere.

“I really am so passionate about helping patients, I can’t describe to how much I love my career,” said Scott. “It was what I wanted to do. I’m hoping I can get employment with a company where I can showcase my skills.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr242012

NY Woman Fired After Donating Kidney to Help Her Boss

Keith Brofsky/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A New York woman said she was fired after she donated a kidney to help save the life of her boss.

Debbie Stevens, a 47-year-old divorced mother of two, filed a formal complaint with the New York State Human Rights Commission last Friday, claiming her boss used her for her organ then fired her "after the woman got what she wanted." 

Stevens' boss, 61-year-old Jackie Brucia, is one of the West Islip controllers for Atlantic Automotive Group, a billion-dollar dealership operator.  Brucia hired Stevens in January 2009 as an assistant.

"She just started treating me horribly, viciously, inhumanly after the surgery," Stevens told ABC News.  "It was almost like she hired me just to get my kidney."

Stevens left the company in June 2010 to move to Florida.  She returned to New York in September to visit her daughter, and decided to stop in at the dealership, according to the complaint.  It was during this visit that Brucia told Stevens of her need for a kidney transplant.

"She said she had a possible donor, a friend or something," Stevens said.  "But I told her if anything happened that I'd be willing to donate my kidney.  She kind of jokingly replied, 'You never know, I may have to take you up on that one day.'"

A few months later, Stevens moved back to Long Island and asked Brucia if she had any job openings.  Brucia hired her within weeks.

Then, in January 2011, Stevens said her boss called her into her office and asked if she was serious about donating her kidney.

"I said, 'Yeah, sure.  This isn't a joking matter,'" Stevens said.  "I did not do it for job security.  I didn't do it to get a raise.  I did it because it's who I am.  I didn't want her to die."

When tests revealed that Stevens was not the best match, doctors agreed to let her give her kidney to someone in Missouri, which gave Brucia a higher place on the organ donor list.

Stevens underwent surgery on Aug. 10, 2011.  She said doctors hit a nerve in her leg, causing her discomfort and digestive problems.  She returned to work four weeks later, and said that's when the problems began.

"I don't have words strong enough or large enough to describe her treatment of me," Stevens said.  "Screaming at me about things I never did, carrying on to the point where she wouldn't even let me leave my desk.  It was constant, constant screaming."

Stevens said she was demoted and moved to a car dealership 50 miles from her home.  She said the mental stress got even worse, with her supervisor calling her an "actress."

After consulting a psychiatrist for her mental stress, Stevens hired attorneys who sent a letter to Atlantic Automotive Group.  She was fired within a week.

When reached by ABC News, AAG referred all calls about the case to Jackie Brucia, Stevens' supervisor, who could not be reached for comment, at either the car dealership or her home.  It is not known whether Brucia has legal representation at this time.

Stevens' attorney, civil rights lawyer Lenard Leeds, said he planned to file a discrimination lawsuit against AAG, and would likely seek millions of dollars in compensation.

"Our ultimate goal is to bring this before federal court," Leeds said.  "We're alleging they discriminated against her for her disability and they retaliated against her when she complained about the harassment."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar062012

Head of Florida High School Killed by Fired Employee

Comstock/Thinkstock(JACKSONVILLE, Fla.) -- An employee at a high-powered Jacksonville, Fla., private high school who was fired Tuesday morning returned to the campus that afternoon and killed the headmistress with an assault rifle he carried in a guitar case, then turned the gun on himself, police said.

“There was an employee that was terminated this morning,” Jacksonville Sheriff’s Department Undersheriff Dwain Senterfitt said in a videotaped statement posted Tuesday on the department website. “They returned to the school [around 1:30 p.m.] He went to the headmaster, headmistress’ office -- Dale Regan -- and basically had an assault rifle in a guitar case. He shot and killed Ms. Regan and then he killed himself....Our prayers go out to the Episcopal [High School] community.”

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office identified the shooter as former Episcopal High School Spanish teacher Shane Schumerth, 29.

In an emailed statement, the school said students and faculty were safe and the campus was secure.

“Our deepest sympathies are with her family and we ask for your support and prayers during this time,” read the emailed statement. “The entire school family mourns the loss of our friend and leader.”

The school’s statement said classes would remain suspended through spring break until March 19, but that counseling and pastoral care would be provided to students and staff.

Authorities said the school had been on lockdown but that it had been lifted and parents had been allowed to pick up their children.

Regan worked as head of Episcopal for seven years. She had been an English teacher at the school for 27 years. In a 2010 Florida Times-Union story, she called the job an “exciting adventure.”

According to the school’s website, Episcopal enrolls 900 students for grades 6-12 and offers 21 AP and 19 Honors classes.

Its graduates have a 100-percent college placement and many head to Ivy League schools, and all 90 faculty members have four-year degrees or higher, the school website says.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov102011

Florida Teachers Fired for Reporting Abuse, Lawsuit Claims

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(MIAMI) -- Two teachers, including a former teacher of the year, are suing the Catholic Archdiocese of Miami, claiming they were fired for reporting suspected sex abuse involving the principal and a seventh grade girl.

Chanell Morello and Lynn Hoffman immediately contacted the Florida Department of Children and Families and the Miami Archdiocese after the student made Morello aware of an incident allegedly involving St. Anthony Catholic School principal Norma Kramer.

The principal lifted the student's skirt, "exposing her bare buttocks and genital area to a school employee and another student," according to the complaint.

"This is all about protecting kids," said Jeff Herman, a lawyer for the two dismissed teachers.  "These women did just that, even though it cost them their jobs."

The Catholic school student allegedly victimized went to Morello last year "crying and shaking" and told her what happened immediately after the incident, according to the complaint.  Morello, who had been teaching for five years, consulted veteran teacher Lynn Hoffman, a former nun, about the girl's claim.

Hoffman confronted Kramer, who she said admitted to the incident.

Despite contacting the archdiocese, nothing was done to address the incident, the women said.

"They were told during the year that if they didn't keep quiet, they'd have a problem," said Herman, who has dealt with previous lawsuits against the archdiocese.

The Miami Archdiocese sent ABC News a statement saying it has not seen the lawsuit and is unable to comment, but stressed that the diocese requires "mandatory reporting of inappropriate behavior."

At the end of the school year, the two teachers were given pink slips, something Herman said never would have happened if they hadn't reported the alleged abuse.

"Lynn Hoffman is a former teacher of the year and just before the incident, Chanell Morello was given a glowing review," said Herman.  "These are two teachers who were dedicated and cared deeply about their students."

Both women have been unable to find teaching jobs since being let go from their positions.

St. Anthony Catholic School declined ABC News' request for comment, but confirmed that Kramer was no longer working at the school.

Morello and Hoffman are seeking damages in excess of $15,000.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep282011

Government Sues BAE for Firing 600-Pound Houston Man

Hemera/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- The U.S. government has sued defense contractor BAE Systems Inc., alleging that the company fired an employee because he was morbidly obese and failed to accommodate him under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Ronald Kratz II, who weighed over 600 pounds and had worked in BAE's manufacturing location in Houston since 1994, was fired in October 2009.

After being told to report to human resources, Kratz told ABC News, he was informed he was being terminated due to his weight, despite receiving "good evaluations."  

The suit filed Tuesday states that a human resources official told him he could no longer perform his job duties as a material handler "because of his weight and he was therefore terminated."

The human resources official told him he could not be transferred into another position after Kratz, 42, inquired if that was a possibility, reported Houston ABC affiliate KTRK.

Kratz, who has since lost over 200 pounds, has not been able to find another job since his termination. He told ABC News his wife financially supports him and his three daughters, after his unemployment benefits ended about one month ago.

Kratz said 90 percent of his job entailed typing on a computer at a desk. Otherwise, he said he counted and wrapped parts to prepare them for storage while standing, and he drove a forklift.

Kathy Boutchee, senior trial attorney with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal employment law enforcement agency, said Kratz was instructed to wear a seat belt that did not fit while he drove the forklift. He said he never received a seat belt extender after requesting one and was fired about two weeks after that.

The EEOC suit accused BAE of violating the ADA by firing Kratz because of his disability, denying him employment opportunities, and failing to accommodate his disability.

Boutchee said the company "easily" could have reprimanded Kratz for not wearing a seat belt or provided him a seat belt extender, as required by law. She said an EEOC investigation found that other employees were driving forklifts without seat belts.

Kelly Golden, BAE Systems spokeswoman, provided a company statement to ABC News. "BAE Systems Inc. believes it acted lawfully in this matter and given that the issue is the subject of pending litigation it would not be appropriate to comment further," the company said. "BAE systems takes pride in the diversity of the company and in supporting employees with disabilities."

BAE Systems Inc., headquartered in Arlington, Va., has 100,000 employees worldwide and offers products and services for air, land and naval forces, according to the company. Its parent company, BAE Systems PLC, is based in London.

The EEOC is demanding back wages, other "affirmative relief necessary to eradicate the effects of the unlawful employment practices to which he was subjected," compensatory damages for past and future losses from emotional pain and suffering, and punitive damages for BAE's "malicious and/or reckless conduct."

Boutchee said Kratz' case could last 12 to 18 months if it is not resolved before trial.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio